Home From The Field Derps and herpaderps – 4 short stories for your facepalming pleasure

Derps and herpaderps – 4 short stories for your facepalming pleasure

Derps and herpaderps – 4 short stories for your facepalming pleasure

First off, disclaimer: I am not in IT. Nowhere close. That said, I’ve always enjoyed working with computers, especially with hardware issues, and when my boss found out I’m able to do that, she promptly started using me as technical support…for her entire family. I should have realized this was going to be tough when they lost over a year’s worth of business records because they didn’t realize they had to actually back stuff up.

The first “derp” moment came when they wanted to buy their college freshman a new computer. I took the time to explain what they needed to look for, recommend some models that would give them great value for their money, and felt pretty confident that they could get something appropriate. They wound up with a Mac that would be great for doing some photo or video editing…for their daughter who is pretty much limited to Facebook and wasn’t going into any field requiring that – she just wanted a Mac because “everyone has one.” And then they wanted to know why their existing copies of Microsoft Office wouldn’t work on it.

The second “derp” moment came when their main computer wouldn’t connect to the Internet using Internet Explorer. Obviously, this had something to do with me trying to convince them to use Firefox instead. I nearly bit through my lip when a family friend who was “good with computers” told me it was obviously related to the recent Firefox update, and Internet Explorer was a much better browser. Turned out it was a setting that had gotten messed up (I don’t remember what it was, but I checked one box and that was it), but they still prefer to use the “better” browser.

A third “derp” moment occured when my boss was complaining about losing all the data she had stored on her iPhone. Turned out she’d been sharing an iTunes account with her husband and had finally gotten her own, with no idea how to back things up or migrate them to her own account. I’m sure I could have easily shown her where to find things like her pictures, but I was beginning to see how futile it all was…

The truly “herpaderp” moment, though, came when my boss’s mother came in to process some paperwork while my boss and her family were out of town. It was half an hour before I was due to come in, and she called my co-worker complaining that the computer wasn’t working and was giving her an error message. He told her I’d be in soon, so she waited for me to show up. When I finally walked into work, she told me that the computer wasn’t working and was giving her an error message, which she worded so vaguely I didn’t know what was going on. I sat down and noticed the tower was turned off, so I leaned over and turned it on. Instantly, she said “Oh, was it off? You know, [boss] said something about shutting it down before she left, but I didn’t know that’s what she meant!” The computer was perfectly fine – the “error message” had been the monitor’s “going into energy conservation mode” message when she had tried to turn it on.

This doesn’t even begin to cover the number of times I’ve cleaned viruses off their computers, performed system restores, etc (because they insist on using IE, of course). Some people just shouldn’t even be allowed to touch computers.

– NICE.  Welcome to our world! – Rob


  1. I’m the local Excel guru, and I get dragged all over the place teaching people the simplest things. They could jus do a Google search and it would save us all a bunch of time!

    Also, IE has gotten better over the last year, but it is still nowhere near as good as FF or Chrome. I work for a Fortune 500 company, and I don’t see us ever getting rid of IE. Sad.

  2. I have a grandfather of 83 who insists on using a computer. So I feel your pain. I can’t even quit.

    Yesterday he thought his desktop background was a virus (he used to have the default purple flower, and now it was ‘wave’). Last week, he called because he had a ‘moving flag error’ which turned out to be the screensaver.. The list goes on.

  3. I’m the person who submitted this – reading this again, I’m torn between cracking up and banging my head against my desk. I work as a medical courier right now, but thank goodness, it’s only a few months more –  I’ll be going to police academy in the fall. I don’t mind being a hardware guru – I built my first computer when I was 12 and digging into a computer has always felt about as natural as breathing – but I dislike being technical support, especially when it’s PEBCAK/ID10T 99% of the time. I salute you, brave people of the support desks, because it is a job I could not handle.

  4. Oh, and story #5? Those viruses I mentioned?

    “Kate, can you look at my computer? It keeps telling me I need to pay for virus protection but I already have McAfee, and it won’t go away.”

    “Um…[boss], did you click on any suspicious looking advertisements lately? Download anything funky…?”

    “…nooooo, I don’t think so.”

    “Well, how long has this been going on?”

    “I think it started…three weeks ago?”

    Her computer had a virus, complete with popups, that was insanely annoying and nearly made the whole thing unusable. I don’t know how she lasted three weeks with it. McAfee was out of date and couldn’t update, I couldn’t download anything else, so I finally did a system restore, immediately downloaded and ran AVG, and told her it was fixed and don’t click on anything suspicious.

    Two weeks later – the same thing happened again. I don’t know how she managed to do it, but she’d disabled AVG, found the same virus, and the popups were back. This time, I was able to track down the website she’d gotten this from, and…well, I may have exaggerated a little. I may have said something about “if this happens again, it might damage your hard drive to the point that nothing will be able to restore it.” And then I mentioned the horrible, awful things that happen when your antivirus is disabled. If she’s had any problems since she hasn’t mentioned it to me.

  5. I used to be one of the on site techs for one of the bigger nuclear tech companies in the world, with engineers designing power plants and reactors and fuel rod cluster layouts.
    We had two engineers we called “typewriters”, but we suspected a pencil was the most advanced tool they could handle. In the 7 months I worked there they opened 50 – 100 tickets, and it wasn’t unusual that the ticket was reopened when you were back in the den.The worst one was really not supposed to have a computer. One day I went to her workstation four times because her internet wasn’t working when she undocked her computer. She had shut off the wireless reciever on the switch on the side of her laptop. The second time I told her that she could leave it on, so the computer could switch to wireless when she undocked. Her response was som uncoherent blah blah about power conservation and radiation and something something blah blah that made no sense whatsoever.
    And she was a well paid nuclear engineer, designing plants…


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